Feature Follow Friday ~ April 29, 2016

feature-and-follow
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

Favorite Heroines

Claire from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

It is only fitting that Claire make the top of my list, since her husband made the top of my Book Boyfriends list. As much as I love Jamie Fraser, I also love Claire Fraser. She is strong, independent, intelligent, fierce. She refuses to be forced into the standard female role in a patriarchal society. She stands up for herself and protects those she loves. She is a woman to be respected, and I admire her for all that she is.

Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Hermione Granger is a little like Claire. She is independent and intelligent. She is kind and compassionate. She fiercely loves and protects her friends. She goes out of her way for those she cares about. She does not let herself be defined by being “muggle” born. She is one of those great friends I would want as a friend.

Jacky from Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Jacky Faber is not your typical character. She defies and bucks all societal norms. She poses as a boy in order to survive in a man’s world – and she does it fabulously. She becomes the most notorious and most wanted pirate by the British Navy. Despite being dubbed Bloody Jack, she is kind-hearted. It’s what typically lands her in hot water. She is scrappy and strong. She’s hard and stubborn. But she’s also soft and loving. She tries to put others before herself – their happiness above her own. She is a rough and tumble gal, and I’d be proud to be her friend.

 

Who are your favorite heroines? What makes them your favorites?

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Thoughts on Thursday: My Confession About My “Copied” Features

2016-Discussion-Challenge

 

My Confession About My “Copied” Features 

Recently in the blogosphere there has been a lot flying around about copying and inspiration. Cait @ Paper Fury covered the differences pretty well, Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Book Reviews also chimed in about inspiration and her situation and why she doesn’t want to write discussion posts, and Evie @ Bookish Lifestyle did a sound off on copying. I am sure there are more also coming out, but these are the ones I have seen.

Lexxie had a situation where she created a challenge that was very similar to someone else’s. She emailed the blogger and asked if it would be okay. My confession is similar, but different.

When January rolled around, I decided to start my own feature. Not a weekly meme hosted by someone else, but something personal and meaningful to me on my blog. Famous Last Words was born and so far has appeared the third Thursday of each month. I never gave a second thought to it. This was my content created from my idea based on a very personal experience. In my little blurb in each post, I talk about how I came by the idea because I was inspired by Pudge in Looking for Alaska by John Green.

After the second installment of my feature came out, I discovered another blogger who has a feature with the same title. When I learned this, I researched and went digging to find the origin. Was this a meme (that wasn’t credited to the host) or is this her own self-created feature? How and why did she start it? I didn’t find answers to any of my questions. So I continued my own feature without contacting her.

There’s more to the story that I haven’t shared. 

Or at least connected the dots for readers.

I have talked in the past or referenced on more than one occasion (and again)about my cousin who committed suicide. In fact, I was dating the man back then during that time, and he took me the nearly two hours home because I couldn’t drive. Interestingly enough, they share the same name. This TTT was my most recent post really coming out about the entire suicide-book relationship.

I even talked about Pudge and The Colonel in a Thoughts on Thursday post about book baes and friends. After looking back at it, I realize that my cousin was a mix of everything I said about Pudge and The Colonel. He was a thoughtful friend who pondered deep subjects – although he rarely let on. He read the Bible in 7th grade at school during silent reading time. It ended up pissing off teachers because it ended up sparking students having their own conversations (respectfully) about religion outside of class, but the damage was done and the buzz was buzzing. Really, it was because the teacher was Jewish – and  I know this because I later had this same teacher.

Whatever you are picturing, my cousin was not.

He was not a holy roller Christian. He was not someone who had that religious, wholesome look. He was not a devout church goer.

He was none of those things.

Instead, he was so far from what you would think. And that was the plague that dogged him all through school because he chose to embrace his difference and show it to all who cared. My cousin was bold and daring. He didn’t look before he leaped – unless others were involved. He was fiercely loyal and would take the blame for someone else. My cousin looked and acted differently, and teachers associate that negatively. Things about kids get around, and everyone knew who my cousin was the minute they saw him.

They didn’t know what to look at first: his dangling skull earrings, the long sweeping black trench coat that led their eye down to the clunky Doc Martens or up to his elaborately spiked and distinctly colored hair. 

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Is this the kind of kid you would expect to have other students asking him about Jesus, God and the Bible? Probably not.

He looks like a punk teen who could have been arrested. And he was. For standing his ground and standing up for himself in the right way when a principal laid hands on him. The school district and superintendent had a very hard time explaining that one, and he was arrested under false pretenses. You cannot assault a person and then have them arrested for unhanding and extraditing from the situation to get away.

My cousin was 27 when he committed suicide – with two small children both below the age of five. I really can’t say later in life he started religiously attending Cowboy church services because he was only 27. He didn’t have a “later in life.” But as an adult who was also a parent, he sought out the very thing that started all his troubles – the Bible. The pastor of the Cowboy church gave testimony at his funeral service about how he had been sought out multiple times to consult on interpretations of the Bible and application to life. A coworker shared his own story of struggling in life, and how my cousin counseled him and tried to help him through a serious situation by referencing the Bible and talking him through things.

The night we lost him, I knew. I talked about my premonition dreams before on the blog, and what I didn’t share was I also have premonitions or signs of other sorts. It isn’t all the time, it is very subtle. Again, I was dating the man at the time. I was with the man that night. The man woke me up because I was thrashing all around in bed and making a strange noise – like a whining, a keening sound. I remember sitting up straight in bed and just looking at the man and feeling empty. Like I was looking through a ghost.

I later found out my thrashing fit was within the same thirty minute window in which my cousin took his own life, locked and barricaded behind his bedroom door with his two sleeping babies only two rooms away.

About six months before I had read Looking for Alaska as a required reading for my adolescent literature class. I fell in love with Pudge and his friends, and I was heartbroken for Alaska. I would never have read the book AFTER. I thank my lucky stars regularly that something in the planets aligned and I was put in that specific class that spring semester and I had time to ponder over the book because it later served as a Bible of sorts for me trying desperately to understand my cousin’s actions. I now sleep with Looking for Alaska on my headboard, near to me always.

But there’s more. I didn’t create this feature only because Pudge is fascinated with peoples’ last words.

I created the feature because of the famous last words of my cousin, the ones he left on his mother’s and sister’s voicemails directly before he took his own life. 

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Mickey Mouse and Rikki Tikki Tavi, AKA: Double Trouble

He was an only son and the first grandson. A year and a half later, his cohort, his best friend, his buddy through thick and thin, died in a single-car crash. His sister asked if he died on impact or would have survived. His shins were shattered and every bone in his face broken. Even if he had lived, he would have been a vegetable.

He was also my cousin – an only son. The second grandson. 

At the time I believed it was also suicide. There had been an incident before but was an accident. Many in our family are left wondering still from the famous last words of a single text message.

That is the real reason and origin of my feature.

 

Do I have a valid origin for my feature?

Does this mean I was inspired, or do you think it’s copying?

FREE Audiobooks for Summer 2016

SYNC ~ Returning May 5

SYNC is a program that gives away TWO complete audiobook downloads each week throughout the summer program — a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title.

This is an outreach from the Audio Publishers Association. It’s entirely free – all you have to do is enter your name and email address in order to download the two titles each week.

I took advantage of this opportunity for the previous two years, and I can vouch that they do not use your email address for anything other than an authentication. You do not receive a confirmation email, or any promotional emails either.

You can also get a text notification when the new week’s books are available to download. Text syncYA to 25827 for title updates and alerts when the new books are out.

Why Audiobooks? 

Photo Cred: Audiobook Sync

SUMMER 2016 SYNC TITLES

The SYNC program returns May 5th and runs for 15 weeks through August 17th. Below are the 30 titles for this year.

May 5th 

May 12th 

May 19st 

May 26th 

June 2th 

June 9th 

June 16th 

June 23th 

June 30th

July 7th 

July 14th 

July 21st 

July 28th

August 4th

August 11th

Will you be downloading any titles? What do you think of the choices for this year?

Spotlight + Giveaway: AFTER

 
It’s not about the war. It’s about the warrior.

 

Publication Date: March 6, 2016
Genre: Military Non-Fiction

Meet eight combat-injured men who sustained life-altering injuries. Read eight inspiring stories of heroism and the re-building of independent, productive and fulfilling lives after seemingly impossible circumstances.

This project looks at the struggles of these incredible men to reshape their lives after combat. It also sets these stories within the context of current veteran healthcare; injury, suicide, and disability statistics; and looks briefly at the impacts on the caregivers who support these men. Being face-to-face with combat-injured veterans has given me an insight that all Americans should have. Veterans of the Vietnam era began the process of opening our eyes to the grim realities that await veterans both psychologically and physically. These men’s stories show how much more we have to accomplish.

This book isn’t about war or politics – it is about figuring out what it takes to move forward AFTER the war. I wrote this book to raise awareness of what our warriors need most when they return, what the government does and doesn’t provide and why there is a high demand for private non-profits to fill the gaps. Make no mistake – we are in this period of recovery and rehabilitation for decades to come. It also introduces the non-profit organization Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station which has taken on the task of helping our combat-injured men and women make the daunting transition from military to civilian life. 100% of the proceeds benefit them in this much-needed labor of love.

It’s not about the war. It’s about the warrior.

100% of the proceeds benefit Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station.

Amazon | GoodReads

Short Interview with RJ Belle…

1. Tell us about your currently available titles. I currently have fiction and non-fiction up. I never thought I would write non-fiction – it wasn’t part of the plan. Sometimes the best plans happen by accident.

2. What’s your favorite part about writing these stories? Fiction: creating something from nothing. Non-fiction: people sharing their most intimate stories with me.

3. What would your characters say about you? Be honest! This chick never sleeps!

4. Who would play your favorite character if they made a movie of their story? A younger Sam Elliott.

5. Do you have any projects currently in the works you want to talk about? Finishing up character creation for book three in my Sutton series.

 

R.J. Belle began writing as a teenager as a way to express her creative side. In 2013 she made the jump into writing for publication. R.J. left her career to write full time and within three months published her first Fiction Novel, First One Down: A Paul Sutton series novel. With a new stunning cover and additional editing First One Down is set to re-release in April 2016. Book two in the Paul Sutton series, Second Sight, will release summer 2016.

R.J. released her first non-fiction project in 2016 – AFTER: The Battle Has Just Begun. After explores the daunting task of physical and emotional recovery and rehabilitation for eight combat-injured men and the private non-profit that assisted in all eight transitions.

R.J. lives in Southern California with her family.

 

WWW Wednesdays (April 27)

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This is a weekly meme hosted hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. To join in answer the following three questions and hop over to Sam’s and leave your link.


What are you currently reading? 

I have found myself in yet another reading slump. I just don’t have any motivation! I need y’all’s help! What do you find as the best thing to do when you are caught in a slump? I might need to try some different things to get the mojo back, so leave me a comment!

I finally started a NEW book! It is still slow going, as each time I went to pick it up my eyes were already drooping due to this new sleep medication I’m taking. Yay sleep!

siren_400

I started reading The Siren by Elicia Hyder. This is the second book in the Soul Summoner series. I reviewed the first book (Soul Summoner) a while back on the blog and it was a phenomenal story. The plot was so complex and the beginning was crucial to the ending.

All the missing victims of North Carolina’s deadliest serial killer have been found, all except Rachel Smith. When the FBI produces a photo proving Rachel is alive and well in Texas, one case is closed but another one is opened. Either this is a case of mistaken identity or there are more people than just Sloan Jordan and Warren Parish who seem to walk the earth without a soul.

Along with Detective Nathan McNamara, Sloan and Warren travel south to find Rachel and solve the biggest mystery of all: determining who—or what—they really are.

23302416I brought my copy of Wonder home that a student bought for me, but I have yet to have time to go back and read the sections I’ve missed due to trainings or our yearbook bootcamp field trip on my homeroom days. My homeroom kids have continued reading on without me, and I have a few who loved the book so much they got a copy and finished on their own. I have also convinced my mother to read Wonder. Our city’s Wonder Run 5K was last weekend. Although I didn’t participate, the photos and testimonies from participants were fantastic.

15997095The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P. #1) is still on hold  right now. This was an audiobook from last summer’s SYNC releases. This week I saw one of my students with this book returning it to the library, and I got very excited to ask him if he finished it. Often my kids will randomly select books, read them for a couple days, and return them. Unfortunately, that is exactly what he did, so we couldn’t talk about this book. I wanted his opinion because I am starting to think of DNFing this one, but I really want to get all my audiobooks read for this coming summer’s new ones – that will be released in two weeks!


 What did you just finish reading?

6372667After stalwartly avoiding finishing this book, I finally finished Liberty Frye and the Sails of Fate. I really do think the two big reasons I couldn’t get through this one was the pacing and the fact that it’s the second book in the series. I didn’t understand the character relationships or much of the backstory. It just kind of all jumbled together for me, and I became an awkward turtle (or should I say ostrich?) with my head in the sand.


What do you think you’ll read next?

This category is broken up into two separate sections. Y’all have been seeing the same books down here for weeks months now, and most of them have been TBR Jar books, but I’ve been receiving several review tour books recently.

TBR Jar Books 

I’ve decided to sneak these books in pre-TBR Jar. I planned on reading these first, so I didn’t put them in my TBR Jar, but they basically go in the jar. These are books I want to read up on to clear out my Kindle. The first on my list of to-read’s is to get The Money Tree off of my backlog.

Review Tour Books

These are my upcoming review tour books from the end of April through May.


 How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share the link to your WWW Wednesday post OR leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog. Happy Reading! 🙂

Spotlight + Excerpt + Giveaway: Debauched

DebauchedBlogTour

9781524229702Title: Debauched
Author: Jennifer Dawson
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Series?: Undone #3
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance w/BDSM elements

Find the book: Goodreads |Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Kobo | iTunes

One night in a moment of sheer madness I confessed my secrets to him. All my life I’ve been pretending. Pretending to be the woman I thought I should be instead of the woman I really am. I’ve been faking it and I am good. No one has ever guessed. Except him. He just looked at me and knew.

Chad Fellows is not the man I want, but he’s fast becoming the man I need.

One night in a moment of sheer madness I held her in my arms and let her cry. I did the right thing, letting her walk away, no matter how much she calls to the part of me that wants to rescue her. We are nothing alike, and she’s a mess of complications in a life I’m trying to keep simple. But then I touched her and made her tremble and now I can’t turn away.

Ruby Stiles is not the woman I want, but she’s fast becoming the woman I need.

Undoneseries

CRAVE Undone #1  ~ Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Kobo|iTunes

Sinful Undone #2  ~ Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Kobo|iTunes

Unraveled Undone #2.5 ~ Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Kobo|iTunes

 

EXCERPT

I keep my eye on Ruby Stiles, even though I want to forget that night where I’d held her in my arms while she cried. I have a lot going on right now, work’s crazy, I just got a promotion and my competition for the job now works for, and hates, me. I’ve got building development going on—a little side project I started with one of my friends— that’s now taken on a life of its own. I’m putting everything I have into business right now and Ruby is not something I want to distract me.

It’s why I didn’t press after I called her the day after Valentine’s and she gave me the brush off, even though I wanted to. I’d hung up the phone and sighed in relief, because when I’d called I’d been half afraid she’d want to follow up on what had gone down between us the night before. Most guys in my situation wouldn’t have called Ruby at all, but I’m unfailingly responsible, especially when it comes to women. I’d done the right thing, ensured she was okay, and asked if she needed to talk. She’d said no.

Responsibility absolved. That should have been the end of it.

Only, I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since that night. That strange, perception-altering night, where nothing played out as I’d been expecting. Before then, I’d always viewed Layla Hunter’s best friend as a pretty rocker girl with whom I have nothing in common. She’s beautiful and has a body that won’t quit, but she didn’t interest me that way I need a woman to interest me.

Then Valentine’s happened and—I don’t know—something changed between us.

I can still feel her quivering, trembling body in my arms. The stain of tears on her cheeks as she looked up at me with her blue, watery, desperate gaze. Still remember the sound of her voice as she spilled her secrets.

She is nothing I need in my life right now. And even though I don’t want anything to do with the complications she presents, I can’t take my eyes off her.

As Ashley drones on and on about a subject I can’t even remember, I watch Ruby and that ridiculous excuse for a man she brought with her tonight. She might not be my type, but she looks gorgeous. Her code of dress seems to vacillate from retro rocker to pinup girl with an edge. Like a rebel Snow White. She pulls it off very, very well.

Tonight she’s decked out in an outfit right out of the nineteen forties, that slimfitted skirt and black-and-white top hugging every curve to perfection. She’s curled her shiny black, shoulder-length hair into sleek waves and even from across the room I can see the brilliance in her blue eyes. And then there’s her mouth, full and ruby red, matching her name.

She looks different from every other woman in the room, and when her date slides a hand over her hip, I experience an inappropriate surge of possession. As soon as he settles in next to her she darts a nervous glance in my direction. Our eyes lock, the air pulses, and she jerks her attention away from me. Right then I know her date is about me. That she’s brought him as a diversion.

“So what do you think?” Ashley says, ripping me from my thoughts.

I stare down at the cute little blonde who, in theory, is exactly what I need right now. She’s lush, pretty, and has a set of tits I could spend hours torturing. Best of all she’s not mentally taxing. I’m pretty sure she’s been discussing makeup for at least thirty minutes. She’s the kind of girl you take to dinner and don’t have to say a word because she talks a mile a minute.

Chad and RubyI’ve clearly missed some sort of question. I give her my most winning smile. “I’m sorry, what did you ask?” I raise my hand to my ear and say in a too loud tone, “It’s kind of loud in here.”

She grins up at me, her expression brilliant and tinged around the very edges with desperateness. I’ve heard all about her trials and tribulations with the guy she used to hook up with. She’s on the rebound and I’m her prey.

She hasn’t seemed to cue into the fact that I’m not interested. What Ashley wants, I have no interest in giving her, and the truth is, I feel bad for her. She’s been screwed over enough. Only I don’t know her well enough to give her a much-needed lecture about men who don’t treat her the way she deserves.

Her lashes flutter and bat up at me in an exaggerated way. “I said I have tickets to the Bulls from work and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me.”

Oh hell. Now I’m going to have to hurt her feelings and I really don’t want to do that. But my lack of attention is not getting through to her, so I’m forced to be direct. I put my hand on her arm and her skin is cold. “Thank you, that’s very sweet, but I’m going to have to pass.”

Her expression falls but I trudge on. Ashley doesn’t realize this, but I’m doing her a favor by not wasting her time, and squashing any hope she might have for us. I want to give her the work excuse, but based off her history, that won’t cut it.

I rub my hand over her arm and smile. “I’m not an option for you, Ashley. I’m sorry about that, but you deserve a guy that is going to give you the time and energy you deserve, and I’m not that guy.”

She jerks a little under my touch. Her face twists for a moment before it surges with hope.

I repress my sigh.

She puts her hand on my waist and I immediately drop my hand from her. She shakes her head and laughs a little. “That’s cute. But you’ve misunderstood; I’m not looking for anything serious. I’m not looking for commitment. I’m looking for fun. That’s all.”

All bullshit, but I’m more than happy to let her save face. She’s looking for the loophole most guys would fall into, but I’m not that easily manipulated. Most women confuse good guy with push over, thinking that I am not wise to their games, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I shrug. “I apologize if I misunderstood. But I’m not available.”

Her attention drops to my mouth, turning hungry. Annoyed, I glance over her head and see Ruby talking to Jillian Banks and Leo Santoro, she laughs at something they say and then her gaze catches mine.

She frowns, and then it disappears almost as though she’s caught herself. Which she probably has. I’ve noticed that about her. She filters everything. Reveals a glimpse of her true emotions before covering it up with what she believes she should feel.

“What about for fucking? Are you available for that?” Ashley’s words rip me back to her. She’s wearing a seductive expression and her hand has curled into the waistband of my pants. “We could go upstairs right now and I could blow your mind.”

I resist the urge to express my exasperation with her. In her defense, this approach would work on ninety-eight percent of guys, so it’s her misfortune I fall into the two percent. I contemplate my options. I could go stern, but she’d probably like that. I could continue being nice but assertive, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I run through a couple other choices but decide on the truth.

I wrap my fingers around her wrist and forcibly pull her off me. Then I look deep into her eyes and say with complete sincerity. “I am not an option for you. We are friends and that’s where you and I will stay.”

Her expression falls again and her chin quivers the tiniest bit.

While I’m sympathetic, I don’t relent. I release her hand and reach up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. “You’ve been hurt, Ashley. I’m sorry about that. But as a friend, let me tell you, this isn’t the way to mend your broken heart. A man won’t fix what’s broken inside you. You have to do that all on your own.”

Over her head I see Ruby climb the steps leading to the second floor.

I smile at Ashley. “I wish you luck. You deserve to be happy and I hope you find it. But I’m not your guy.”

Her eyes brighten. “Okay.”

I chuck Ashley under the chin. “You okay?”

She nods and points to a group of girls hovering around the kitchen island. “I should get back to my friends.”

I smile at her. “Sounds like a good plan.”

Ashley walks away, leaving me alone. I drain the rest of my drink and narrow my eyes on the stairs.

The last thing I should do is go upstairs.

I put my drink down on a small bar table.

But I’m going anyway.

Chad is a rebel

 

7278601About the Author:

Jennifer Dawson is the author of the popular Something New series; spicy, small town romance released with Kensington, and pens the dark and edgy contemporary romance series Undone.    Jennifer grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day, she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they are married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog. These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever-watchful eye on her ever-growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband. Jennifer loves connecting with her readers and invites you to check out her website, Facebook page, and join Dawson’s Darlings, her private Facebook Fan group. Sign up for her monthly Newsletter for exclusive insider peeks, new release information and more.

Website | Facebook| Facebook Fan Group| Twitter |Amazon |Sign-up for Newsletter

 

Giveaway International:

A tour wide giveaway for 25.00 Amazon gift card (Paypal for International winner) and eBook collection of the Undone series.

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Generation M

First Chapter First Paragraph

Today I’m participating in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, in which bloggers share a bit about a book they’re reading or planning to read soon.


Although I am still reading other books, I am going to start reading Generation M, the final book in The Toucan Trilogy, soon, as I have been commissioned to write official blurbs for the books. I have reviewed the first two books, Night of the Purple Moon and Colony East.

23440553Chapter 1

“I am a seed of the new society.” The man had a gruff, but friendly voice.

Lisette wrinkled her nose in frustration as she carefully adjusted her headphones. They were too big and kept slipping below her ears.

“I am a seed of the new society,” she repeated in her deepest voice.


Synopsis:

The explosive conclusion to the Toucan Trilogy.

Coldly implementing their vision of the future, CDC scientists allow a lethal infection to become an epidemic outside the colonies.

Abby, her body wracked by the infection, begins a desperate journey to find her brother Jordan and her little sister Toucan, and save the lives of millions.

 

Would you keep reading?